suggestions from folks with lived expertise


Antidepressant prescriptions are on the rise, and that is partially pushed by extra folks staying on them for longer (Kendrick, 2021; Kendrick et al., 2015; McCrea et al., 2016; Moore et al., 2009). Whereas antidepressants could be helpful at stopping relapse for many individuals (Sim et al., 2015), as much as half of people taking antidepressants long-term are doing so and not using a guidance-based purpose (Ambresin et al., 2015; Eveleigh et al., 2014). It is a downside as a result of antidepressants can include vital negative effects (Kendrick, 2021).

Nonetheless, while many individuals may prefer to cease taking antidepressants, doing so generally is a problem. Interviews with sufferers inform us that one of many largest obstacles to stopping is worry of relapse or withdrawal signs, alongside points corresponding to inadequate coping methods and lack of help from healthcare professionals (Maund et al., 2019).

Previously, withdrawal signs have been thought to have an effect on few folks and never final very lengthy. Nonetheless, there’s now proof that this is probably not the case. Some sufferers have reported withdrawal signs lasting for weeks, months, and even years, and analysis has steered that just about half of sufferers who report withdrawal results, report these signs as ‘extreme’ (Davies et al., 2019). Reporting antidepressant withdrawal signs is moreover difficult as a result of signs of withdrawal can really feel like signs of relapse (e.g., anxiousness, suicidal ideas; Horowitz & Taylor, 2022).

In abstract, we all know that antidepressant discontinuation is likely to be actually arduous for some folks, and that further help is required. However what ought to this help appear to be? Learn and colleagues (2023) surveyed people attending on-line antidepressant withdrawal help teams for his or her suggestions.

Many people might like to stop antidepressants but feel unable to due to barriers such as fear of relapse or withdrawal and insufficient coping strategies. It is clear that more support is needed.

Many individuals may prefer to cease antidepressants however really feel unable as a consequence of obstacles corresponding to worry of relapse or withdrawal and inadequate coping methods. It’s clear that extra help is required.


Learn et al. (2023) carried out a global on-line survey that particularly recruited individuals who both:

  • Had expertise with stopping antidepressants up to now;
  • Have been at the moment making an attempt to cease, with the usage of an internet peer help group to assist them;
  • Beforehand tried to cease taking antidepressants up to now, had to return on them, and have been at the moment on the lookout for help to cease safely by way of an internet peer help group.

The survey itself was combined strategies, however the present examine focuses on responses from the immediate: “A public well being service to assist folks come off antidepressants ought to embody …………….”. Content material evaluation was used to create themes and subthemes from the 708 responses.


Pattern traits

Most individuals have been girls (81.4%). Individuals have been from 31 nations, with 21.2% of individuals from the UK. A lot of the individuals have been white/Caucasian (92.9%) and had a level (67.4%).

All respondents had tried to cease or cut back antidepressants, with a 3rd (32.8%) having tried at the very least twice. Half of the individuals (50.8%) have been within the strategy of tapering their antidepressant use.

Most individuals (93.5%) reported that their physician hadn’t advised them about the potential of withdrawal signs, and slightly below half of individuals (48.7%) stated they felt their antidepressants had helped them.

Fundamental findings

The authors recognized 7 themes and 29 subthemes:

  1. Prescriber position (n = 349): This theme had 8 subthemes, and largely centered on the attitudes and behaviours wanted from clinicians prescribing antidepressants, corresponding to being educated, compassionate, and offering help for withdrawal (e.g., tapering strips).
  2. Info (n = 326): This theme had 6 sub-themes and was centred across the want for additional details about learn how to withdraw and withdrawal signs. Individuals wished info to be evidence-based, in a written format, patient-based and never from drug firms.
  3. Different help/companies (n = 283): This theme describes the opposite types of help (corresponding to psychological help, peer help and life-style adjustments) individuals described. This theme comprised 13 sub-themes.
  4. Robust damaging emotions re docs/companies and many others. (n = 105): This theme illustrates the anger and disillusionment current in lots of the responses.
  5. Knowledgeable consent when prescribed (n = 87): This theme describes how individuals wished extra info, notably about withdrawal, once they have been initially prescribed the antidepressant.
  6. Drug firms (n = 17): This theme refers back to the affect of drug firms and ‘Huge Pharma’ in prescribing, and the problem that folks skilled when making an attempt to come back off the antidepressants.
  7. Public well being marketing campaign (n = 16): This theme focuses on the necessity for mass training in regards to the negative effects and withdrawal signs related to antidepressants.
Online survey respondents described negative experiences of trying to stop their antidepressants and felt that they needed better support and more evidence-based information made available at an earlier point.

On-line survey respondents described damaging experiences of making an attempt to cease their antidepressants and felt that they wanted higher help and extra evidence-based info made out there at an earlier level.


The authors conclude that clinicians require training relating to antidepressant withdrawal, and that sufferers want improved entry to totally different types of medicine (e.g., liquids) to permit for slower tapering. Individuals described a way of anger and ‘lack of religion’ within the medical system after damaging experiences of tapering, highlighted the implications of poor administration.

The authors additionally point out the want for additional help past the standard position of the physician (e.g., counselling, help teams, and help for household and carers), and clarify how this extends the literature by offering inventive solutions for improved help, corresponding to residential amenities, info for employers, and companies run by people with lived expertise of withdrawing from antidepressants.

Respondents came up with creative ideas for the kind of support one could offer someone who’s having a difficult time stopping antidepressants, such as residential facilities and peer support.

Respondents got here up with inventive concepts for the sort of help one might provide somebody who’s having a tough time stopping antidepressants, corresponding to residential amenities and peer help.

Strengths and limitations

There are a number of strengths to this examine, together with:

  • Findings that echo outcomes from earlier qualitative research on this subject (e.g., Maund et al. 2019), highlighting that many individuals have had damaging experiences of discontinuing antidepressants and that there’s a clear want for help. Particularly, worry of withdrawal signs (and a lack of know-how about them) is a giant subject for folks who wish to cease antidepressants, which has necessary sensible implications.
  • Findings that stretch the present literature by drawing consideration to the anger and disillusionment skilled by individuals who have had damaging experiences when making an attempt to discontinue antidepressants and offering solutions for different strategies of help.
  • By specializing in those that have had tough experiences, the paper highlights the place there’s a want for change, which could assist to problem the misunderstanding that withdrawal signs are sometimes transient and delicate.

Nonetheless, there are additionally some limitations. As the pattern have been recruited from on-line help teams, among the recognized themes (e.g., damaging experiences, request for extra clinician help) could have been extra doubtless, because the individuals had already turned to an alternate supply for help-seeking. Equally, the pattern could have consisted of a better proportion of people fighting antidepressant discontinuation, because the inclusion standards meant that individuals needed to be having a tough time discontinuing with a purpose to participate. The authors level out how necessary it’s to seize the views of those that are struggling essentially the most with stopping antidepressants, as these are the people most in want of help. This may clarify why there’s a better concentrate on withdrawal signs within the present examine in contrast with different analysis (e.g., Maund et al.’s qualitative meta-synthesis). Whereas specializing in those that are struggling most doesn’t signify all experiences of discontinuation, it permits for a better, extra in-depth understanding of the experiences of those that are actually struggling to cease their antidepressants. And these findings spotlight the sort of help wanted for these folks.

One other limitation with the pattern is that most individuals are white and well-educated. Most analysis on this space doesn’t embody very numerous populations. Extra analysis is urgently wanted to know the experiences of individuals from a spread of various backgrounds who could face totally different obstacles to stopping antidepressants and require totally different sorts of help (Maund et al., 2019; Taylor et al., 2019).

This study focuses heavily on difficult withdrawal symptoms and slower tapering periods, which may be due to the specific sample recruited.

This examine focuses closely on tough withdrawal signs and slower tapering durations, which can be as a result of particular pattern recruited.

Implications for apply

This analysis highlights a transparent want for change. Folks need details about withdrawal signs on the level that antidepressants are prescribed, which means they’ll then make a extra knowledgeable resolution about their therapy. Folks additionally need higher details about learn how to go about withdrawing from their antidepressants, and really feel that clinicians should be higher knowledgeable about withdrawal signs and slower tapering. Moreover, there must be improved entry to several types of medicines to raised allow actually gradual tapering (e.g., liquid formulations), mixed with steady help throughout all phases of the method. This can be within the type of help teams, or somebody who has efficiently tapered. This may also embody particular person psychological remedy and/or help for family and friends.

These findings are helpful for GPs and different main care practitioners who evaluation medicine and help discontinuation. They may also be used to tell psychiatric care. Findings like this must be thought of, alongside the broader evidence-base, when growing coverage and healthcare steerage (e.g. NICE). For instance, a working group consisting of politicians, scientists, psychiatrists, and affected person representatives have just lately really helpful withdrawal companies corresponding to psychological interventions, social prescribing and a nationwide 24 hour prescribed drug withdrawal helpline/web site (Davies et al., 2023).

The REDUCE programme (funded by the Nationwide Institute of Well being and Care Analysis) has used the Individual-Based mostly Strategy (Yardley et al., 2015) to co-produce two digital interventions: one that gives steerage for main care practitioners, and one other (with phone help) for sufferers discontinuing antidepressants. These interventions embody info and help about withdrawal signs, coping methods, dose discount schedules, and relapse prevention. The randomised managed trial just lately accomplished as a part of the REDUCE programme will inform us whether or not this sort of help is likely to be helpful for sufferers and practitioners when discontinuing antidepressants.

Importantly, the findings of Learn et al. (2023) spotlight that there’s a group of people that have had very tough experiences discontinuing antidepressants. These persons are left feeling indignant and disillusioned with the medical system. For these folks, vital enhancements are wanted with a purpose to rebuild belief.

It’s actually necessary that we work in the direction of supporting the many individuals who do have a tough time stopping, and we want to verify everyone seems to be given the chance and help to cease if that’s what they wish to do. Analysis like this paper will help us try this by exploring the wants of people who find themselves discovering stopping so tough. Nonetheless, many individuals don’t attempt to cease their antidepressants as a result of they’re afraid of withdrawal signs (Maund et al., 2019). There could also be many individuals who wish to strive stopping antidepressants and could also be dissuaded from doing so based mostly on stories of damaging experiences. So I really feel it’s necessary right here to acknowledge that not all experiences are damaging. Many individuals can cease antidepressants with much less issue – whereas 56% of individuals report experiencing withdrawal signs, meaning 44% don’t (Taylor et al., 2019). Ideally (and hopefully within the close to future) anybody who desires to cease could have the chance to take action, however that is solely attainable with the availability of sufficient help for individuals who want it.

The current study emphasises a clear need for change in how we approach antidepressant prescription and withdrawal by providing clear information at prescription and offering a greater range of services and medicines to support withdrawal.

The present examine emphasises a transparent want for change in how we strategy antidepressant prescription and withdrawal by offering clear info at prescription and providing a better vary of companies and medicines to help withdrawal.

Assertion of pursuits

I’ve beforehand labored on the NIHR funded REDUCE programme and one co-author of the first paper (JM) is a co-investigator on this undertaking. This programme of analysis co-produced a digital intervention for sufferers and practitioners to help antidepressant discontinuation in main care, which is intently associated to the subject of the first paper. I’ve additionally executed some paid consulting on a Canadian on-line software to help sufferers to slowly taper antidepressants and one of many co-authors of the first paper (MH) additionally labored on this software.


Major paper

Learn, J., Lewis, S., Horowitz, M., & Moncrieff, J. (2023). The necessity for antidepressant withdrawal help companies: Suggestions from 708 sufferers. Psychiatry Analysis, 326, 115303.

Different references

Ambresin, G., Palmer, V., Densley, Ok., Dowrick, C., Gilchrist, G., & Gunn, J. M. (2015). What components affect long-term antidepressant use in main care? Findings from the Australian diamond cohort examine. Journal of Affective Problems, 176, 125–132.

Davies, J., Learn, J., Kruger, D., Crisp, N., Lamb, N., Dixon, M., Everington, S., Hollins, S., Moncrieff, J., Giurca, B. C., van Tulleken, C., Chouinard, G., Dooley, M., Man, A., Horowitz, M., Kinderman, P., Johnstone, L., Montagu, L., Nardi, A. E., … Marshall-Andrews, L. (2023). Politicians, consultants, and affected person representatives name for the UK authorities to reverse the speed of antidepressant prescribing. BMJ, p2730.

Eveleigh, R., Grutters, J., Muskens, E., Oude Voshaar, R., van Weel, C., Speckens, A., & Lucassen, P. (2014). Value-utility evaluation of a therapy recommendation to discontinue inappropriate long-term antidepressant use in main care. Household Follow, 31(5), 578–584.

Horowitz, M. A., & Taylor, D. (2022). Distinguishing relapse from antidepressant withdrawal: medical apply and antidepressant discontinuation research. BJPsych Advances, 28(5), 297–311.

Kendrick, T. (2021). Methods to cut back use of antidepressants. British Journal of Scientific Pharmacology, 87(1), 23–33.

Kendrick, T., Stuart, B., Newell, C., Geraghty, A. W. A., & Moore, M. (2015). Did NICE pointers and the High quality Outcomes Framework change GP antidepressant prescribing in England? Observational examine with time pattern analyses 2003-2013. Journal of Affective Problems, 186, 171–177.

Maund, E., Dewar-Haggart, R., Williams, S., Bowers, H., Geraghty, A. W. A., Leydon, G., Might, C., Dawson, S., & Kendrick, T. (2019). Boundaries and facilitators to discontinuing antidepressant use: A scientific evaluation and thematic synthesis. Journal of Affective Problems, 245, 38–62.

McCrea, R. L., Sammon, C. J., Nazareth, I., & Petersen, I. (2016). Initiation and length of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor prescribing over time: UK cohort examine. British Journal of Psychiatry, 209(5), 421–426.

Moore, M., Yuen, H. M., Dunn, N., Mullee, M. A., Maskell, J., & Kendrick, T. (2009). Explaining the rise in antidepressant prescribing: a descriptive examine utilizing the overall apply analysis database. BMJ (Scientific Analysis Ed.), 339, b3999–b3999.

Davies J, Learn J. A scientific evaluation into the incidence, severity and length of antidepressant withdrawal results: Are pointers evidence-based? J Addictive Behaviors. 2019

Sim, Ok., Lau, W. Ok., Sim, J., Sum, M. Y., & Baldessarini, R. J. (2015). Prevention of Relapse and Recurrence in Adults with Main Depressive Dysfunction: Systematic Evaluation and Meta-Analyses of Managed Trials. The Worldwide Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 19(2), pyv076.

Taylor S, Annand F, Burkinshaw P, Greaves F, Kelleher M, Knight J, Perkins C, Tran A, White M, Marsden J. (2019) Dependence and withdrawal related to some prescribed medicines: an proof evaluation (PDF). Public Well being England, London. 2019.

Yardley, L., Morrison, L., Bradbury, Ok., & Muller, I. (2015). The person-based strategy to intervention growth: utility to digital health-related conduct change interventions. Journal of Medical Web Analysis, 17(1), e30–e30.

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